Bunclody woman is overjoyed by success of Malawi project which is transforming lives

Valerie Power.

Brendan KeaneEnniscorthy Guardian

A woman from Bunclody has expressed delight at the success of a project aimed at transforming the lives of people living in southern Malawi, through them receiving a fairer price for their pigeon pea crop.

Valerie Power, who is Christian Aid’s representative in the Bunclody Union of Church of Ireland Parishes, shared a photo with a pea pod in place of her normal smile to demonstrate her happiness for farmers who have received a higher income for their drought-resistant harvest since joining a Christian Aid-supported pigeon pea cooperative.

Valerie has supported the charity for many years by holding coffee morning fundraisers and sponsored walking events and this year, she helped organise a sponsored walk in Clonegal.

Pigeon peas thrive in drought-prone southern Malawi. They’re cheap to grow from recycled seed and require only minimal amounts of fertiliser and pesticides, making them an ideal crop to grow in a region where over 60 per cent of families live in poverty.

Esther Saizi, a 54-year-old widowed grandmother, is one of more than 3,300 farmers helped by Christian Aid’s local partner, the Nandolo Farmers’ Association, which runs the pigeon pea cooperative. With the improved profits from her harvest, Esther began buying goats, which provide milk and meat for her family as well as manure for her crops, saving on expensive fertiliser.

She also used her income to buy a sewing machine and now she makes clothes for her family. The extra income also enabled Esther to support her eldest daughter’s carpentry business and her younger daughter’s dream of going to college and qualifying as a nurse. She is also paying school fees for her 4-year-old grandson.

Christian Aid Ireland Chief Executive, Rosamond Bennett, praised the impact of the charity’s supporters and commented; “The transformation in Esther’s fortunes in Malawi is only made possible by our incredible supporters who generously give each Christian Aid Week to fund our work to help tackle the root causes of poverty around the world.”

Christian Aid Week has been running in Ireland since 1957, making it the country’s longest running fundraising campaign. Each year, thousands of people donate to Christian Aid during the week to support people living in some of the poorest countries in the world, as well as countries coping with conflict, drought, risk of famine and the impacts of climate change.

For more information about Christian Aid and how to support it’s fundraising drive visit www.caweek.ie/Donate or call 01 496 7040.